They Are NOT Heroes

Suddenly I’m hearing Mike Pence, Bill Barr, Ivanka Trump, and others referred to as ‘heroes’.  I don’t see it that way at all.  At some point, they did step up to the plate and do their job for We the People, but for years before that, decades in the case of Ivanka, they failed.  Instead they licked the boots and played “yes-man”, enabling a lunatic who was intent on turning the United States into his own personal playground.  I am not alone in my view of these and other people, for yesterday Frank Bruni wrote of them in his column in the New York Times

Don’t Let Bill Barr and Ivanka Trump Visit the Reputation Laundromat

June 16, 2022

By Frank Bruni

The Jan. 6 committee’s televised hearings are many things: the coalescence of scattered revelations into a clearer, cleaner narrative; an unblinking appraisal of the madness of King Donald; an opportunity for Americans to reflect on how close things came, and might yet come, to falling apart.

But for Bill Barr, Bill Stepien, Ivanka Trump and others, they are also something else — something we should not be taken in by.

They are a trip to the reputation laundromat (or perhaps, for this crowd, the reputation dry cleaner). Donald Trump’s onetime acolytes are trying to expunge the stain of their sycophancy. And they’re betting that in a country and era of fickle attention spans and feeble memories, they’ll have more luck with that spot than Lady Macbeth did with hers.

Early this week, the committee showed testimony by Barr, the former attorney general, that he told Trump again and again that Joe Biden had won the 2020 election fairly and definitively. It showed testimony by Stepien, who was Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, that he was among a group of aides — “Team Normal,” he called them — who pushed back against Rudy Giuliani’s hallucinatory insistence that the election was being stolen.

And last week, of course, was Ivanka Trump’s star turn. That’s when we saw her testimony: that she said a big no to the Big Lie.

But her, Barr’s and Stepien’s words don’t amount to moral reckonings. They reflect professional calculations.

Team Normal? If you were still working for Trump by the fourth year of his presidency, there was nothing normal about you. If you served that campaign, during which Trump repeatedly telegraphed his intention to declare any result other than victory an illegitimate one, there was nothing normal about you. If you’d taken the measure of the man before Election Day 2020 and decided, yes, he’s fit to lead America, good for this country and worthy of my efforts and energies on his behalf, there was nothing normal about you.

And if, in the weeks after Election Day, you finally stopped abetting his delusions, midwifing his megalomania and whispering sweet reassurances in his ear, you weren’t returning to normal. You were simply cutting your losses. It was time to hitch your wagon to a sturdier, steadier horse, to find another patron and another payday.

Stepien, as my colleague Michelle Cottle wrote in The Times on Tuesday, “slunk away, coat collar flipped up and hat brim pulled low in the hopes that no one would notice him fleeing the spiraling freak show to which he had sold his services and his soul.”

Susan Glasser, in The New Yorker, also had it right. Reflecting on how Stepien and Barr are now styling themselves (and being showcased) as blunt tellers of Trump-foiling truths, Glasser wrote on Monday evening that they are “not only Trump’s accusers but also first-class enablers of Trump and his lies — until Trump finally found a lie too big for them to enable. Even when it came to their qualms about Trump’s ‘rigged election’ crusade, their outrage came conveniently after the fact, not when it might have made a difference.”

Amen. We can be grateful that Barr and Stepien didn’t travel the final autocratic mile with Trump and not discount their disgraceful road to that point. We can remember how Barr, in advance of Robert Mueller’s report, released a toned-down summary of it that was clearly meant to dull its impact.

We can remember that before Mike Pence patriotically refused Trump’s order not to certify the election results, he pathetically performed the role of Trump’s evangelical beard. And don’t get me started on Ivanka. I’ve spent ample time in her temple of self-celebration, as have others. She and her husband, Jared Kushner, will always do what’s profitable for them, and if that occasionally intersects with the public interest, well, accidents happen. We can think a word of thanks without uttering a syllable of praise.

There were Republicans who took a chance on Trump at the start and got out fast, accepting that either he’d fooled them or they’d kidded themselves. There were Republicans who signaled that much was amiss. Those who didn’t — including Pence, Mike Pompeo and others with presidential aspirations in 2024 — forfeited the moral high ground and can’t credibly reclaim it now.

Nor can they pretend that they were anything other than transaction-minded actors in the most transactional administration I’ve observed. When they benefited from their proximity to Trump, they held their noses, bit their tongues and cuddled close. It’s possible they persuaded themselves that his flaws weren’t so different from any other vain leader’s, that politics is invariably messy and that their compromises were “normal” ones. That’s awfully convenient. And utterly absurd.

22 thoughts on “They Are NOT Heroes

  1. I only hope that something good will come out of the hearings. I can’t believe how so many people didn’t notice that the Rutabagus had no clothes on from the beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope so too, Memarge. I don’t see how Merrick Garland can possibly turn a blind eye to the obvious fact that Trump KNEW he was committing treason, or at the very least sedition. He simply cannot be allowed to run again, yet I keep hearing “experts” say that he won’t be charged. Sigh. Ha ha … I like that about the Rutabagus having no clothes on!


  2. Thank you for sharing!!… they rode the Trump image for what they could get out of it but now I believe over time one will see Republicans slowly trying to distance themselves from him in order to protect their image, something that is difficult to do with today’s technology… as they say in the game of poker “a card laid is a card played”, one don’t pick it up and try to play another because it didn’t get the results one wanted.. 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Dutch! I agree that I think we’ll start to see some Republicans slowly distancing themselves from the former guy, but others cling tightly after seeing how those who pulled back are being ostracized and demeaned. The GOP has truly become unworthy, corrupt, and decayed over the past few years. I had hoped they would step back, regroup, and re-imagine themselves once Trump was out of office, but he managed somehow to draw them in and to literally take over the party. I don’t have a good feel for the GOP moving forward.

      Many thanks for the Irish Saying!


    • You are exactly right. As I just told Prof, finally stepping up to the plate and doing the right thing does NOT erase four years of unconscionable neglect of our nation. I’m glad that Barr and especially Pence finally did the right thing, but for four years before that, they failed in every possible way to uphold their oaths.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Completely agreed Jill!

    Calling Mike Pence, William Barr, Ivanka Trump, Eric Herschmann, Bill Stepien, John Eastman, and all other Republicans “heroes of democracy” of Jan. 4th, 5th, and 6th, 2021 or anything hinting of heroic honor is a colossal mistake by even normal definitions of severe tunnel-vision. Those moderate, hesitant, scared(?) yet reasonable Republicans—who by the way are entirely responsible for allowing extreme radical (near fascist) Trumplicans to usurp their old traditional Party values—CANNOT rewrite their Party’s failed narrative/coup of four plus years under the Orange Orangutan to behind 3-days of too-little-too-late heroics by these few! No, no, and NO again. Any intelligent American with a functioning brain knows 3-4 days does NOT compare to or erase 1,457 days of pure Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as “The World’s Wackiest Show on Earth” play out of the White House! The two very different performances are not even within good entertainment standards!!!

    No, focusing strictly on those three January days in 2021 compared to four years of hell is an exercise in 🙉 🙈 🙊 but with actual monkey-players! Pfft.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Prof! And you are so right … they are attempting to re-write history and their roles in it, but there are too many of us with functional brains who SAW what happened, who lived through those four years! William Barr could have been the knight in shining armour if he had reported half of what he knew in the beginning. In fact, any of Trump’s cabinet or staff could have been heroes and saved us all so much grief, but they chose to put their own personal fortunes ahead of the welfare of the nation and it’s people. I am very thankful that Mike Pence did not give in to the pressure on January 6, 2021, for if he had, I cannot imagine what today would even look like. But that does not make him a hero after four years of boot-licking and arse-kissing! He could have worked diligently to get enough support for invoking the 25th Amendment many, many times, but nope … he did not. Doing the right thing one time after failing for four years does not a hero make. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

      Liked by 1 person

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